One of the main things I brought back with me from Poland when I traveled there to visit the 5th Global Forum on Nicotine was probably the knowledge that there are other solutions, apart from electronic cigarettes, for traditional smoking. This might not have changed our overall approach here at Vapor Aqui, but it has at least helped refresh it. The project has always aimed mainly at helping rid themselves of cigarettes and switch to a healthier life, but so far we have focused solely on recommending electronic cigarettes.
One of the main issues that scientists, academics and others in the health and consumer protection areas attending the event point towards is the matter of choice and the need for alternatives. What works for me doesn’t necessarily work for you, which means one product will never achieve universal acceptance, so we need reduced risk alternatives that match every consumer’s profile, not just the profile of one group of consumers, however big that group might be.
So, Vapor Aqui is now offering you a brief summary of the reduced risk alternatives that are currently available and we will have much more extensive, in-depth articles on each of them soon.
You have probably never heard of SNUS, a wet tobacco product in sachet format that is consumed by placing it on the gum, where nicotine can be absorbed. It was invented in Sweden almost 200 years ago and it has been so successful that the number of female smokers in Norway, where SNUS are more popular than traditional cigarettes, has fallen to just 1%,
Unfortunately, these alternatives, like electronic cigarettes, face a lot of “discrimination” and are barred from various countries, often on no logical grounds, and the SNUS has also been banned across Europe, except for Sweden, where it was invented. During the event in Poland, Dr, Farsalinos (a well-known scientist and proponent of electronic cigarettes) called this the “biggest health scandal in European history”, perpetrated by the World Health Organization, which bans a product that is the only alternative method supported by long-term studies and causes no apparent problems if used.
Heated tobacco is receiving significant investment from tobacco giants like BAT (British American Tobacco, our Souza Cruz) and Philip Morris. Instead of burning the tobacco, this new technology heats it and promises to be much less harmful for the human body.
Many of the harmful sub-products produced by traditional cigarettes are produced by the way it is consumed. I usually joke that a cigarette doesn’t cause cancer when it is on a table inside a pack and if you decide to chew it and eat it, it will probably give you quite a stomach ache, but not lung cancer. That might sounds absurd, but it isn’t wrong because much of the harm caused by cigarettes comes from the tobacco combustion and if tobacco is consumed using a different method, such a being cooked, it could pose much less of a risk.
Based on this, BAT (our Souza Cruz) presented its GLO product during the event. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to obtain a unit to bring it back and test it, but I did receive one sample of each of the company’s other six devices and we will be analyzing each of them in the very near future. As far as the GLO is concerned, maybe a company representative will read this article and send us one of the devices to analyze here.
On the other hand, we are already producing our analysis of the Philip Morris IQOS, a product many of you have asked for information on. The company really does seem committed to switching from conventional cigarettes to reduced risk alternatives, given its public commitment announced at the start of the year, when is reported it was going through a transition that would result in it no longer making cigarettes.
Philip Morris really does have a product that appears much more mature than that of its competitor. The product has a foothold in several markets, like Japan, achieving significant success in a market where heated tobacco is allowed by electronic cigarettes are not so welcome. I also saw the IQOS on sale at stores near the event in Poland and several people on the street were using the product, which goes to show how big a consumer of cigarettes Europe really is, because I saw many more people smoking there than I usually see in Brazil.
Without too many spoilers, the IQOS provides a sensation that is literally the same as smoking a cigarette, that the vapor can only imitate up to a certain level of satisfaction, but never entirely replicate.
Safety and risk studies
ANow that Vapor Aqui is chasing down information on other reduced risk products, I hope to read more in-depth articles about specific research efforts in this area, but we had to provide at least some information about ongoing research, so we have included a short summary below.
As these products are still newer than electronic cigarettes, we don’t expect to see any long term studies, however there are some promising studies and outcomes now available. Unfortunately, most of them are from the manufacturers themselves and we are naturally skeptical of research carried out by the product’s manufacturer, but we have a copy of some independent research carried out by Dr. Farsalinos, who is widely respected, and who released this article. I was able to interview Dr. Farsalinos while we were at the event in Poland and he said that on a risk scale from 0 to ten, where zero is not smoking at all and 10 is smoking a traditional cigarette, the vapor would be classified as risk 1-2 and heated tobacco classified as 2-3, and this is exactly what scientific research has also concluded.
So, although not as safe as electronic cigarettes, they are much safer than conventional tobacco and a much more similar alterative to smoking than electronic cigarettes could ever hope to achieve. For those unable to switch to vaping and who want to continue smoking, this is great news.
People need the right to choose
One of the points raised by academics during the Poland event was the need to rid the world of traditional cigarettes and switch to less harmful products, not necessarily bringing the act of smoking to an end, but replacing it with a product that can be used without causing pain and suffering. Of course, not smoking is the best thing for your health, but we come back to the issue of choice, because eating meat is also not the healthiest habit, nor is living in a major, polluted urban center, eating industrialized products or drinking beer, but these are all life choices people can and should have the right to make. Why can’t someone smoke if they want to? The issue is doing it without killing yourself in the process. Another issue is doing it because you want to, not because of dependency, and this is a subject for a separate article on nicotine and addiction, using material brought from Poland to publish here.
Unfortunately, these alternatives face many hurdles in many countries, not just developing countries like Brazil, but developed ones as well. Bizarre cases like Uruguay allow people to sell cannabis but not e-cigs, Japan allows heated tobacco but not vaping, the SNUS ban is completely illogical, and there are other absurd situations that appear to protect a variety of interests, but do not benefit the majority of the population.
Society needs to push government and independent scientific communities to continue their work to publish the truth through research based around solid methodologies, with a scope that goes beyond protecting personal interests, something we know happens with electronic cigarettes which suffer from a barrage of misinformation and attacked by “scientific research” that is less than reliable.